The PLANT Programme

Changing your diet to beat cancer

Originally published in December 2002 icon

Gill Tidey and Jane Plant

Food for FUN and FITNESS

These recipes from Jane Plant and Gill Tidey’s book, The Plant Programme, based mainly on Chinese principles of diet, are designed initially for those fighting breast cancer but are also effective for everyone who wants to cut their risk of developing cancer, in particular breast and prostate cancer. They are delicious, simple and mostly quick to make and so full of variety that no-one could possibly feel deprived.

The aim of The Plant Programme is to eliminate all dairy produce, cut down on the amount of meat eaten, to replace animal protein with soya based food, cereals and pulses.

It also encourages you to eat more of the foods that protect against cancer: i.e. fresh organic vegetables, herbs, nuts, berries, seeds and spices and to eliminate or reduce to a minimum food that has been refined, preserved or overcooked. Above all the programme aims to offer maximum variety so that healthy eating can be easily maintained.

Principles of the Cookbook

Many anti-cancer diets are difficult to keep to because the recipes are bland and boring and in some cases the regimes are harsh and extreme. Instead we have developed an exciting range of recipes inspired particularly by Asian cooking. Asian-style recipes often look complicated because they have a lot of ingredients, many of which are spices and herbs but don’t be put off.

Open quotesInstead we have an exciting range of recipes inspired particularly by Asian cookingClose quotes

If you have a tray of all your spices to hand it is only about adding a few ingredients - it doesn’t add a lot of time. Some anti-cancer diets eliminate all spices although many, such as saffron, contain antioxidants and substances like circumin (in turmeric) have anti-cancer properties. Thai people have the lowest rates of breast and prostate cancer on record and Thai food is certainly spicy.

Scoring System

To give maximum flexibility, we include a simple point-scoring system. Hence, the pear, artichoke and walnut or any other meat-free salad, would score 0 so you can eat as much as you like. On the other hand, the barbecued lamb scores 10, still OK in a cancer prevention diet for special occasions but we do not recommend eating large quantities regularly.



Fresh fruit and vegetable juices and salads 0


Soya "milk" & yoghurt, nuts dried fruits, uncooked grains and bean curd (tofu) 1


Mixed cooked and raw vegetables and fruit 2


Cooked vegetables, fruit, grains, dried pulses 3


Canned beans, vegetables, soya "cream’ 4


Dominantly vegetables with eggs 5


Dominantly vegetables with chicken, duck, fish and seafood 6


Dominantly vegetables, with lamb, pork, rabbit or venison 7


Dominantly egg 8


Dominantly chicken, duck, fish and seafood 9


Dominantly lamb, pork, rabbit or venison 10

People with active cancer should not have any meal scoring more than four and they should aim for a daily score of 15-20 though this can be averaged over a week to allow for an occasional treat.

Those on a prevention or maintenance programme should have a meal scoring more than 5 only once a day and should aim for a daily score around 30-35 but again this can be averaged over a week.

The Recipes

All the recipes contain a full list of ingredients but we recommend that you use them only as a guide and add or subtract ingredients to develop the meals that you enjoy the most.

The Plant Programme Book cover

In this article we can only print a small selection of the recipes just to inspire you. If you would like to buy the book, we have arranged a special price for ICON readers.

The book contains dozens of recipes, tips and encouraging advice and it may turn out to be the only cookery book you ever need to use.


About the Authors

Professor Jane Plant’s first book was based on intensive medical research following her five-times personal battle with breast cancer. It had spread to lymph nodes in her neck and despite five operations and numerous radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments she was given only three months to live. At that point she changed her diet and to everyone’s amazement the large cancerous lump in her neck disappeared within five weeks. That was eight years ago.

Following that illness and the success of her first book, Jane joined forces with her Friend and co-author Gill Tidey an earth scientist, and Director of the Nottingham Energy Partnership, to describe how everyone can make the necessary changes to their diet and adopt the Plant Programme in their daily lives. They maintain that within a few weeks you will probably look and feel much better and will wonder how your body managed to cope with your old unhealthy ways.

Super Soups


(Jane’s husband made this soup for her during her chemotherapy treatment and she found it palatable even when she felt unable to eat most othe, things. Can be made either as a thick vegetable soup or a thinner broth by adjusting the quantities of ingredients)

1/2 cup red Lentils

4 carrots chopped

2 onions chopped

Thick slice of turnip, chopped

2 small potatoes chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1/3 cup pearl barley

1 1/2 litres vegetable stock

2 tbs chopped parsley

2 tbs chopped chives

1. Heat the oil, add all the vegetables and sauté for 3 to four minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.

2. Add the stock, lentils and barley and simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils and barley are soft.

3. Serve sprinkled with the parsley and chives.


500gm mixed broccoli and cauliflower cut into florets

2 medium onions, chopped

8-10 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs olive oil

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and black pepper

2 tsp chopped chives

2tsp chopped parsley

1. Heat the oil and fry the onion for 2 to 3 minutes then add garlic, cauliflower and broccoli and continue to fry for another 1 to 2 minutes stirriring to coat the vegetables with the oil.

2. Add the stock, season to taste and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

3. Eat it as it is or puree in a food processor. Serve sprinkled with fresh chives and parsley.

Sumptuous Salads

NB. Salads are more attractive if the vegetables are cut into small pieces


100gm bean sprouts

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

1/2 cucumber sliced

12-16 snow peas halved

8-10 baby mushrooms sliced

4-6 spring onions sliced

1 red pepper, sliced

1 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs soya sauce

1 tbs sesame seeds

3 tbs chopped coriander

Salt and pepper

1. Prepare all the vegetables and mix together in a salad bowl. (We like the snow peas raw, but you can blanch them for about 1 minute in boiling water if you prefer.)

2. Toast the sesame seeds in a small frying pan on the stove for 1-2 minutes then add to the vegetables.

3. Shake the olive oil, lemon juice and soya sauce together, season to taste and pour over the salad.


3-4 cups mixed green salad leaves

2 pears

112 cup green grapes

812 marinated artichokes, quartered

100gm fresh walnut pieces

1/4 cup walnut oil

2 tbs cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

3 tbs parsley chopped

1. Heat 1 tbs walnut oil and fry the walnut pieces for 2 to 3 minutes until they are golden and crunchy, being careful that they don’t burn. Set aside and leave to cool.

2. Peel and core the pears and cut them into slices, put them in a large bowl and grind black pepper over them.

3. Shake the remainder of the walnut oiL with the cider vinegar, pour over the pears and leave them to marinate for about 30 minutes.

4. Prepare a mixed green salad, add the artichokes, grapes, walnuts, chopped parsley and marinated pears with their dressing, season to taste and toss. Serve with toasted bread brushed with garlic and walnut oil.

Great Grains

Pasta, rice, noodles and grains can be used as a basis for meals that are inexpensive quick, tasty and healthy. Together with nuts they are the most important source of protein in vegan diets and are key foods for those with active cancer.


When there is a long list of ingredients as in this recipe, Jane and Gill suggest you use them only as a guide and add and subtract according to taste and availability.

200gm fresh linguini

12-16 king prawns

1 onion sliced

1 tbs ginger, minced

2-3 cloves garlic minced

1 red onion chopped

60 gm green beans

1 red pepper chopped

60gm fresh baby corn

2 cups fresh spinach

12 chestnut mushrooms

4-5 spring onions

1 tbs lemon or lime juice

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs soya sauce

1/4 cup water

1 small green chilli chopped

1 stalk lemon grass, coarsely sliced Black pepper

2 tbs chopped coriander

1. Peel and de-vein the prawns, leaving on the tails

2. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water according to the instructions on the packet, drain and set to one side.

3. Stir-fry the onion in the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, then add garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, corn, red pepper and green beans and stir-fry for another minute.

4. Add the water, cover and simmer briskly for 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Add the prawns and mushrooms, cover and continue to cook for another minute.

6. Add the linguini, fish sauce, soya sauce and spring onions, stir through and cook for another minute.

7. Remove the lemon grass. Add the coriander and lime (or lemon juice, stir through and season to taste.


(A similar version in the book with the addition of diced chicken breasts, pine nuts and rocket makes a more substantial meal (score 6)

400 gm instant couscous

Hot water or stock

1 small onion chopped

2-3 cloves garlic chopped

1/2 cucumber diced

10-12 cherry tomatoes quartered

2 tbs lemon juice

4tbs olive oil

1 tbs fresh parsley

1 tbs fresh mint chopped

Salt and pepper

1. Pour over enough boiling water or stock to cover the couscous, and leave to absorb the water (about 5 minutes).

2. Heat the olive oil, add the onion and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes, add the garlic and continue to stir-fry for another minute

3. Mix the chopped vegetables and herbs with the couscous, add the onion and garlic, any olive oil left in the pan, the extra olive oil and lemon juice

4. Stir gently to mix well, season and serve.

Vital Vegetables

Vegetables are crucial for good health and are an important part of the Plant programme. Here’s a selection from the exciting vegetable dishes in the book.


1 large onion coarsely chopped

3 medium potatoes scrubbed and diced

1 I tbs ginger minced

4 cloves garlic chopped

2 large tomatoes slice

3 tbs sunflower or peanut oil

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp garam masala

3 tsp turmeric

2 tbs fresh coriander leaves

1. Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the onion for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the dry spices and fry for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower and potato and stir to coat them with the spices.

4. Add water, cover the pan and simmer briskly for 10-15 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

6. Serve with plain steamed rice or naan.


450 gm green beans

1 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs pine nuts or almonds

Salt to taste

1. Steam the green beans for about 5 minutes. (this leaves them still a little crunchy).

2. Toast the pine nuts or almonds until they change colour.

3. Heat the olive oil, add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the beans and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Serve sprinkled with the lemon juice and coarsely ground sea salt.

Sensuous Seafood


125gm crab meat

250 gm cod or other firm white fish

1 medium egg

1 tbs fresh ginger

2-3 cloves garlic

2 potatoes

1 tbs soya milk

1 stalk lemon grass

1 red chilli

2 tbs chopped coriander

Salt and pepper

Fish rather than meat has been a staple food of Japan and Thailand where breast and prostate cance, rates have always been low.

Fish is perfect grilled, poached steamed or fried. There is an infinite variety of fish around so be adventurous. Tuna, marlin and swordfish are all available at many fish counters.

They only need lightly searing and are tough and rubbery if overcooked.

Because fish cooks so quickly it is the ultimate fast food!

1. Steam or boil the potatoes, drain and mash with a little soya milk.

2. Process all the other ingredients in a blender or food processor in short sharp bursts to coarsely flake the fish. Season to taste.

3. Mix the potato and fish together and mould into burger shapes.

4. Shallow fry them until they are cooked through, about 5 minutes each side.

Poultry with Panache

Chicken, provided it’s organic and free range is a good source of animal protein. In small quantities both chicken and duck are diet staples of Asian and other countries where breast cancer is low.


A simple elegant recipe for a really moist chicken contributed by Jane Plant’s daughter.

1 1/2 kg whole chicken 2 lemons (unwaxed) 1 tbs olive oil 1 tbc paprika 1 tsp salt

1. Wash the chicken inside and out and pat dry with kitchen paper.

2. Mix together the salt paprika and olive oil and brush over the entire chicken.

3. Prick the lemons all over and put them into the chicken cavity.

4. Put the chicken in a baking tray breast side down and roast in a preheated 180 degrees centigrade oven for about 30 minutes.

5. Turn the chicken over and continue to roast for another 30 minutes.

6. Finally, turn the heat up to 200c for another 20-30 minutes.

7. Serve garnished with watercress.


2-3 duck beasts, skinned

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tbs lemon juice

4 baby bok choy halved

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp soya sauce

2tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp chilli sauce

1. Mix together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, soya sauce, cumin, coriander and chiili sauce and put in a baking dish.

2. Add the duck, ensure it is well coated with the sauce and Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Bake the duck in a preheated 1700C oven for about 40 minutes.

4. Steam the bok choy for about 5-7 minutes until just tender.

5. Slice the duck finely and serve on the steamed bok choy sprinkled with extra soya sauce.

Meats (now and then)


1 kg leg of lamb cubed

2 large onions finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

500gm fresh spinach

3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes chopped

1 tbs ground cumin

1/2 tbs ground coriander

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

2 cups fresh coriander

Never buy meat that has been treated with hormones or is from animals that have been used for dairying.

If you want to eat lamb ensure you always buy young meat.

1. Heat the oil and stir-fry the onions over a medium to low heat until they become light brown. Add the garlic and continue frying for another minute.

2. Add the salt, ground coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper and fry for another 2 minutes, then add the lamb and brown on all sides.

3. Finely chop the spinach and one cup of coriander (with the stalks) and add to the lamb.

4. Finely chop the tomatoes and add to the lamb and spinach. Simmer, covered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to make cure it doesn’t stick and adding water if it becomes too dry.

5. Serve, sprinkled with extra fresh coriander leaves

Delectable Desserts

The best dessert is a plate of fresh fruit Let your family choose from a fruit bowl or peel and cut up a selection on individual plates. (Remember the saying that a man will eat an orange only if it is peeled for him!) For special occasion here are a couple of desserts most people will enjoy.


450gm ripe banana chopped

1 tbs lemon juice

2 cups coconut milk

3 tbs honey or 1/2 cup cane sugar

2 tbs rum (optional)

1. Blend the banana and lemon juice in a food processor till smooth.

2. Heat the honey or sugar and coconut milk and stir until the honey/sugar dissolves, then stir into the banana with the rum.

3. Chill and then churn in an ice cream maker.


3-4 appLes cored and chopped

8-10 figs chopped

1/4 cup grape seed or walnut oil

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup wholemeal flour

1 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

112 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1. Lightly poach the apples and figs with the cloves and 2 tbs sugar with a little water in a covered pan for about 5 minutes or until they become soft.

2. Increase heat and shake the pan until the apple becomes golden and slightly caramelised. Put to one side.

3. Mix together all the other ingredients with a fork until they form a nice crumble.

4. Spoon the poached apples into a baking dish, cover with the crumble topping and bake in a preheated 1600 C oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is golden.

5. Serve with soya milk custard.

Changing your diet to beat cancer
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